Church asks believers to vote against Reds

via PNS | Kochi published on July 4, 2010

The Catholic Church in Kerala has formally asked its believers not to vote for candidates of the communist parties and their Independents in the local bodies elections to be held in September. The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC), the umbrella body of all the Catholic dioceses in the State, has also declared that the Church would actively intervene in politics.

Without naming any communist party specifically, a circular issued by the KCBC tells the Christian voters that only those who believe in God and respect values, democratic system and the Constitution can ensure the effective functioning of the three-tier panchayaths, municipalities an d corporations in these times of power decentralization.

The circular asks the believers to be vigilant as far as Independent candidates are concerned and points out that fielding respected and God-fearing persons as candidates is a strategy certain political parties adopt in elections to ensure victory. It says that there are several examples of good God-fearing people contesting as Independent candidates with the support of atheistic parties. But they might not be able to keep their independence, the letter says.

The reference is obviously to instances like that of the candidature of KS Manoj, a devout Catholic, an Independent supported by the CPI(M) in Alappuzha Lok Sabha constituency. Manoj had to become a CPI(M) member later and was eventually forced to resign from the party after an organizational document banned leaders and people’s representatives from believing in God and attending religious functions.

“Independent candidature is a carefully crafted trap to make such persons party members and to make them opponents of moral values,” says the KCBC circular. “The candidature of Independents enjoying the support of those with ideologies that are against faith, rituals and democratic and moral values and the election of such candidates would b e dangerous,” says the circular.

The Church had recently announced that it would not keep itself away from political matters though politics was not its field of work. The new circular has tried to explain this position, saying Papal encyclicals had mentioned the need of believers’ involvement in politics. It says that it is the serious duty of the believers to get actively involved in politics by understanding well the social perspective of the Church.

“The Christians cannot avoid being in politics on the ground that it is full of corruption and immorality. They cannot keep themselves away from the nation-building process on the justification that Eternal City is not here but in the heavens. The believers are duty-bound to build the mundane system according to the gospel values,” the circular says.

The Christian Church, which had stood with the Left in the 2006 Assembly elections, had distanced itself away from it following the new policies of the LDF Government in the educational sector and the confrontations between certain top CPI(M) leaders and senior priests. The Church had asked the believers to vote against the Left in the last Lok Sabha elections and observers are of the opinion that one of the major reasons for the LDF’s humiliating setback then was this.

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